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The Casbah (Arabic: قصبة‎, qasba, meaning citadel) is specifically the citadel of Algiers and the traditional quarter clustered around it. (More generally, a kasbah is the walled citadel of many North African cities and towns. The name made its way into English from French in the late 19th century (the Oxford English Dictionary says 1895), and continues to be spelled as acquired from that language.)

The Casbah of Algiers is founded on the ruins of old Icosium. It is a small city which, built on a hill, goes down towards the sea, divided in two: the High city and the Low city. One finds there masonries and mosques of the 17th century; Ketchaoua mosque (built in 1794 by the Dey Baba Hassan) flanked of two minarets, mosque el Djedid (1660, at the time of Turkish regency) with its large finished ovoid cupola points some and its four coupolettes, mosque El Kébir (oldest of the mosques, it was built by almoravide Youssef Ibn Tachfin and rebuilt later in 1794), mosque Ali Betchnin (Raïs, 1623), Dar Aziza, palate of Jénina.

To outsiders, the Casbah appears to be a confusing labyrinth of lanes and dead-end alleys flanked by picturesque houses; however if one loses oneself there, it is enough to go down again towards the sea to reposition oneself.

The Casbah Cafe is and has been the main magnet for Silverlake neighborhood in Los Angeles where many writers and movie artists have found inspiration.

The 1938 movie Algiers (a remake of the French film Pépé le Moko of the previous year) was most Americans' introduction to the picturesque alleys and souks of the Casbah. In 1948 a musical remake, Casbah, was released.

The invitation "Come with me to the Casbah," which was heard in trailers for Algiers but not in the film itself, became an exaggerated romantic overture, largely owing to its use by Looney Tunes cartoon character Pepé Le Pew, himself a spoof of Pépé le Moko. The amorous skunk used "Come with me to ze Casbah" as a pickup line. In 1954, the Looney Tunes cartoon The Cats Bah specifically spoofed Algiers, with the skunk enthusiastically declaring, "You do not have to come with me to ze Casbah.... We are already 'ere!"

In the 1966 film The Battle of Algiers, all the main characters (other than Col. Mathieu) live in the Casbah.

In 1982 the British London-based punk rock group The Clash released the single "Rock the Casbah", about Iran's outlawing of music, particularly disco. The song reached #15 in the UK music charts. The following year the single was released in the U.S., reaching #8 in the charts.[1] "Rock the Casbah" was also the first song played on the Armed Forces Radio during Operation Desert Shield. It became the unofficial anthem for the U.S. Armed Forces during the Gulf War operations. Rachid Taha, an Algerian singer based in France closely connected to The Clash, recorded "Rock el Casbah" in Arabic.

In the 2006 film, Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, the band challenges Satan to a rock-off. The lyrics of the song that they play include the line "We rock the Casbah."


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